You get a variety of answers when you ask a student, "Why do you go to college?" To take classes, to bolster my resume, to party or have fun, to get away from home, to find myself - all are good answers. For me, the answer is a little bit of all of the above, but the real answer is to grow as a human being. Sure, I'm at RIT to learn about computers, but realistically, you can learn the same things from textbooks Good Will Hunting style. Learning to be more self-confident, to become a better communicator, to be a leader, and to discover how to survive in the real world - these are things that can only be learned from others and experience. RIT has really helped me achieve these ends. I say with confidence that I've learned just as much outside the classroom as I have in it. Student organizations, co-op, people I've met - all these things have contributed greatly towards what I'll ultimately get out of college.
One of the organizations that has been really fundamental in achieving my the goals mentioned above has been the RIT Leadership Institute (formerly LEAD, now RLI). September of my freshman year, I went on a retreat with the group in Ithaca, NY. Not only was it a chance to meet a lot of new people (many of which are still friends to this day), but I learned a lot about stepping outside of my "comfort circle" to expand my horizons. To make an analogy, it's like weight lifting - you have tear your muscles a little, but when the heal up, they're stronger than before. For example, up until then, I had always been really shy about randomly talking with strangers. However, the various "ice breaking" strategies forced me to do that very activity. I was uncomfortable about it at first, but realized and wasn't so bad. Now, random strangers have to put up with my terrible terrible jokes :). Adittionally, I've attended a bunch of their seminars and have come out knowing something new each time.
Alas, getting to the real point of my post - RLI hosted the Connectology Leadership Conference this past weekend. The conference was divided up into four sessions and two keynote (opening/closing) addresses. We had a choice of topics for each session, but I attended the following:
- Conflict Resolution Through Emotion Intelligence
- Running a Meeting/Delegation
- Presenting Skills
- Leadership Styles
Dr. Richard Morales, a very skilled speaker and leader, from RIT lead the conflict resolution session. He talked a lot about the automatic reactions that our emotions cause. It might sound like, "Anger is bad and don't flip out on other people," but it most definitely was not. Rather, it focused on how we should realize what our emotions make us do and how to help other people explore their issues without giving them advice per se. Eric Littleford, a former Student Goverment president and all around charismatic guy, gave some innovative tips on how to run meetings in an interesting fashion and still get things done. Nancy Hunter Denny, a renowned motivational speaker and Connectology's closing keynote, stole the show with a very high-energy presentation on how to be charismatic and capture an audience's attention effectively. (If you ever get a chance to see her - DO IT!) I don't remember who did the Leadership Styles portion, but it was rather "blah." It was amusing how bad the guy who did it was in contrast to Denny and how many taboos of presenting he performed :). The day concluded with a closing keynote regarding "zing" - a carpe diem type concept (and yes, the buzz words were flying). All in all, I feel like I walked away knowing more about myself and the areas where I need to improve. I took reasonably good notes, so perhaps I'll share some of the ideas in future posts.
Special thanks to Molly McGowan of RLI and Michelle Magee of Co-op & Career Services for the pictures.
(Nancy Hunter Denny shows us how to communicate "I'm pleased to be here today" with body language instead of words. Guess who that is in the blue...)
(Conference participants grab some cookies and dipping veggies.)
(The energetic audience for Nancy Hunter Denny's closing keynote demonstrating "zing!")